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Best Screwdriver Sets

Updated December 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 14 Models Considered
  • 68 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 117 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best screwdriver sets

    Last Updated December 2018

    Every household has a screwdriver or two on a shelf in the garage or in the back of a kitchen drawer, but how many times have you not had the right size screwdriver to do the job? Owning a good screwdriver set is an inexpensive way to eliminate the frustration of dealing with stubborn screws around the house. It’s also an invaluable addition to any professional’s toolbox. There are many types and brands of screwdriver sets out there, so how do you choose?

    BestReviews has researched the selection, looked at the strengths and weaknesses, and drawn some conclusions. It’s our mission to help you make the right choice when it comes time to buying the best products for your needs, including screwdriver sets.

    The screwdriver sets recommended in the chart above offer top performance and great value, both for DIYers and those with more specialized needs. Read the following shopping guide if you would like more information about screwdriver sets in general.

    The Phillips-head screw was invented in the 1930s by Henry Phillips, but it wasn’t the first variation on the slotted screwhead. That honor belongs to a square-headed version invented by P. L. Robertson in 1908. Even though more than 700 of his screws were used on each Ford Model T, the format never really caught on.

    Types of screwdriver sets

    While there are many types of screwdrivers available, there are just three in common use: slotted (flat), Phillips, and Torx (star).

    Slotted screwdriver

    The slotted screwdriver has been around for a couple hundred years. Slotted screws are cheap and so remain popular. Some people – cabinetmakers, in particular – prefer the appearance of a slotted screw, especially a row of them with the slots lined up. It’s a mark of quality. Unfortunately, it’s easy to twist the screwdriver out of the slot (cam out), damaging the head and making screw removal difficult.

    Phillips screwdriver

    The Phillips-head screwdriver was invented to overcome the issues with slotted screws. Phillips-head screws have a deeper, more positively engaging slot. Locating the screwdriver in the screw is easier, and more torque (twisting force) can be applied. However, too much torque and the screwdriver will slip. It doesn’t harm the screwhead, but it does prevent overtightening.

    Torx screwdriver

    The Torx screwdriver is the most recent addition, invented in 1967. The screw’s recess is a six-pointed spline, often referred to as a star. Though similar to a Phillips-head screw, these are designed not to cam out. The fit between a Torx screwdriver and screw is more direct, and more torque is transferred. Torx screwdrivers and screws were not widely available at first (the screws are comparatively expensive to produce). As a result, these fasteners were used to make electronic devices tamper-proof. Torx screws have become more popular in industry and manufacturing but remain unusual for household and general-purpose use.

    Ergonomic tools for the professional

    It’s hard to see how you could make a better screwdriver set. The handles offer comfort and excellent grip, and a ribbed area makes rapid rotation easy. The extremely hard chrome vanadium shafts resist corrosion and are etched for fast identification. Non-slip tips should last a lifetime. Torx, slotted, and Phillips all in one useful tray. Unbeatable.

    Why own a screwdriver set?

    Most of the problems with tightening and loosening screws come from a poor fit between the screwdriver and the screw.

    Slotted screwdrivers

    With slotted screwdrivers, the blade should match both the width and thickness of the slot for a snug fit. If the fit is loose, there is a greater chance the screwdriver will cam out and damage the slot. This can also lead to finger injuries.

    Phillips and Torx screwdrivers

    Phillips and Torx screwdrivers are less likely to damage the head (although it does happen with cheap screws). However, if you use the wrong size screwdriver, you won’t get the proper contact area, making loosening and tightening the screw much more difficult than it should be.

    Owning a set that contains many different types and sizes of screwdrivers eliminates the issue of not having the proper tool for the job.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Although slotted, Phillips, and Torx screwdrivers are common, there are actually more than two dozen types of specialist screwdrivers available for different jobs.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Among less common screwdrivers are mains circuit testers and automotive voltage testers. Touch the end against a live connection and the handle lights up to warn you.

    Screwdriver set features to consider

    When shopping for a screwdriver set, you need to consider the construction of the screwdrivers and the composition of the set.

    Screwdrivers

    Handle: The handle needs to be comfortable to hold yet tough enough to take the battering and mistreatment it will inevitably receive. Hard plastic hexagonal shapes are common on cheap screwdriver sets. They offer lots of strength but aren’t kind to the hands. Modern material combinations can offer durability, a degree of “give,” and excellent grip, too.

    Shaft: The shaft needs to be strong enough to resist bending. On low-cost screwdrivers, the shaft is often just steel wire. Better ones use chrome vanadium, which is hard but not brittle. It might flex slightly, but it won’t bend or break easily. Chrome vanadium also resists corrosion.

    Blades and tips: These need to be hard or they might deform under torque load. Anyone who’s tried to open a steel paint tin with a screwdriver and had the blade bend has experienced this. High-quality screwdrivers have hardened blades and tips to prevent bending.

    Magnetization: Screwdrivers with magnetic tips make it easier to hold the screw in place while turning.

    Clip: Some small screwdrivers have a pen-type clip that attaches to the pocket of a jacket or overalls.

    Insulation: Insulated screwdrivers have a plastic or rubber sheath over the shaft and handle to protect the user from electric shock if the tool comes in contact with live equipment. While many ordinary screwdrivers have nonconductive handles, it’s no guarantee you won’t get an electric shock. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends insulated screwdrivers for anyone working with electricity over 50 volts, or for those working in areas where tools might come into contact with conductors or circuits. There are two standards for insulated screwdrivers: 1910.269 and 1926. There should also be a maximum safe voltage rating – 1,000 volts on AC is common.

    Screwdriver set components

    When it comes to screwdriver sets, the DIYer has a choice of quality or quantity. The range of screwdriver sets is huge, which is great for you, the buyer. Decide what it is you need, fix a sensible budget, and you will almost certainly find the perfect set.

    Quantity: Within a modest budget, you might find six or eight screwdrivers in a set from a top brand, or perhaps a dozen or more from a well-known manufacturer that aren’t such high quality. Good, low-cost screwdriver sets frequently don’t include Torx screwdrivers, but homeowners seldom need them. If you do, you can get one for around five bucks, but check the size carefully before you buy.

    Quality: Professionals will buy quality screwdriver sets every time. Certain trades have particular needs, so sets are available that only have Torx screwdrivers or that contain all insulated screwdrivers or that have short, palm-fit screwdrivers. If you can think of it, there is probably a set out there! There are also high-quality comprehensive sets that offer great all-round capability.

    Great DIY set from a trusted name

    Many of us grew up with Craftsman tools. This 17-piece set is yet another example of the company’s trademark performance and durability. The handles are tough yet comfortable. The grips work whether you’re applying maximum pressure or spinning them with your fingertips. A lifetime warranty underlines the tremendous value.

    Screwdriver set prices

    There are so many combinations available, it’s difficult to be precise about price, but you can expect to pay between $20 and $100 for a set. Try to avoid very cheap screwdriver sets because the handles can be hard and uncomfortable and can shatter, and the chrome plating on the shafts is often poor quality and can flake off easily.

    • Household sets: A good-quality, comprehensive screwdriver set for household use, containing between 8 and 20 pieces, isn’t expensive. You’ll find enormous choice between $20 and $35.
    • Specialist sets: Specialist screwdriver sets – a range of Torx or insulated screwdrivers, for example – will cost more, though you’re likely to find everything you need between $35 and $50.
    • Professional sets: High-quality professional screwdriver sets can cost up to $100, but it’s a worthwhile investment if you’re using them all day, and your hands will certainly thank you!
    The first screws were made by hand. A blacksmith would make nails, then apprentices or other workers would file them to shape.

    FAQ

    Q. Why do I need screwdrivers of different lengths?
    A.
    In general, the larger the screw, the more torque (turning force) is required to tighten or loosen it. With a longer screwdriver, you generate more torque for the same physical effort. Usually, the longer the screwdriver, the bigger the screw it’s designed to fit. However, sometimes there’s restricted space, which is why some sets often include short, thick screwdrivers as well.

    Q. What’s the difference between a wood screw and a machine screw?
    A.
    A wood screw usually has a much more open thread with sharp edges that can cut their own path as they are driven. A machine screw has a tighter thread that doesn’t have sharp edges. The hole the screw is going into needs to have a thread cut into it using an engineer’s tap.

    The self-tapping screw is kind of halfway between one and the other. It has an extremely sharp thread that can cut into metal, but only relatively thin steel or aluminum. It’s used for things like metal-framed partition walling, and often for holding the outer panels on home appliances like washers and freezers.

    Q. Can’t I just use a small, flat-blade screwdriver on a Phillips-head screw?
    A.
    You could try it as a last resort, but it definitely isn’t recommended. The flat blade won’t go the full depth of the Phillips slot, so you’re not getting proper leverage. This usually leads to the blade slipping. You’ll not only damage the screwhead (making it almost impossible to remove), you could also end up putting the screwdriver through your finger! Buy a decent screwdriver set and you’ll always use the right tool for the job.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Alice
      Alice
      Web Producer
    • Bob
      Bob
      Writer
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer

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